Jon Lester seemed to popularize the term ‘ace’ last year when he became a free agent, leaving every team scrambling to find their own ace pitcher, many believing it’s impossible to win without one. Lester seemed to be the answer to the Cubs' pitching problems because of his 'ace' label with the Red Sox, but many Boston fans considered the pitcher to be an excellent number two starter rather than an ace.
An ace, a great number two starter, what's the difference? In Lester's case, maybe it's the $155 million, six-year contract. Why are we putting labels on our pitchers? The goal for the Cubs, and any other team, is to work together to achieve a win, and no one can do that alone. An ace pitcher getting a win once every five days won't carry a team to the postseason no matter how impressive he is.
One of the most telling comments I've heard about the great ace debate has come from Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello, telling the media a team doesn't need one ace, but five aces.
No, Porcello has nothing to do with the Cubs or their rotation, but his comment makes sense, doesn't it?
Lester seems to be the unofficial ace of the Cubs, (although many consider Jake Arrieta to hold the title) but the team needs Jason Hammel, Travis Wood and Kyle Hendricks to pitch well too. If Lester pitches a gem every fifth night but the rest of the pitching rotation can't produce quality starts as well, his efforts are wasted. One guy, one ace, can't do it by himself.
Lester, Arrieta, who cares who the top dog in the rotation is? It's irrelevant if one is an ace and one is just "a really good number two starter." Both pitchers are extremely talented, and it's ridiculous to put a title on it. What's important is that both of these guys play their best and set a good example for the other pitchers to follow.
We all know there's no 'I' in 'team,' but there's also no 'I' in 'ace.'